Thursday, May 30

Scales: A-flat major and F minor. Ah, evidence of my lack of practice reared its ugly head tonight. The scales sounded OK at 92, except for when the LH is at the bass end of the scale (all the way to the left) and the RH is far at the treble end (all the way to the right). That's when my LH starts acting a little drunk, stumbling around and acting, well, uncouth. Pianistically speaking. I did some drilling on the "turnaround" sections of the two scales, and it helped. A little drilling goes a long way.

Then, I went on to arps.

Folks, I don't deserve a breakthrough. If anything, I deserve to move back a few notches on the metronome, particularly when it comes to arps, which have always gave me fits. Granted, I was working on the "easy" F major and D minor arps tonight ... though I kind of find white-key arps harder because they provide no black-key "anchors" to touch down on.

I played F major at 72. Then I thought, "I really hate that jumpy silence when my hand crosses over!" So I practiced hands separately, in chunks, just for fun. Then HT in chunks. Then in bigger chunks. Then the whole contrary-motion arp routine. Then with the metronome. Then with the metronome just a bit faster ... and a bit faster ...

I got up to 100. Yes, friends, I was playing arps at 100. I was playing them well at 92, not too bad at 96, and definitely not horrible at 100.

I'm in shock. I cannot claim the excellent execution of arpeggioes that my friend The Opinionated Arpeggist can. I never could. When I play arps, I always feel like I'm trying to jump across a chasm that's just a wee bit too wide for me. (OK, so a bit of cognitive self-therapy/ thought-retraining is in order here.) I much prefer scales and runs to arps and big broken chords when learning music. This is probably because I have "petite" hands.

Now for some creative visualization and thought-retraining. Yes. My eyes are closed. I am imagining that I have large hands. Yes. I am Rachmaninoff. I am Rachmaninoff. I am Rachmaninoff.

clicking heels three times, opening eyes

... um ... it didn't work. Not yet, anyway.

No Bach tonight, except for a couple of play-throughs on the intermediate piece. Then I moved on to Liszt before that mean old bully, WTC 1, jumped onto the keyboard ahead of poor old Standchen like it always does.

It was a close call. But Franzi got my attention tonight. It's too bad Bach and Liszt can't show up in the flesh whenever I choose to practice them. I'd probably meet with Liszt more often.

Hmm, I just got an idea for a racy novel ...

Anyway, here are some notes I wrote down as I was practicing Liszt tonight.

mm 1-4 intro: sounds really nice. I could use a bit more control in my hands, though--control I think I had three months ago. It shouldn't take me long to get that back.

mm 4-5 transition: needs to be smoother.

m 13: LH is not hitting the C7 chord inversions boldly enough. This is partly because I changed the fingering rather late in the game. Not that I'm making excuses ...

mm 62 & 66: The bane of my existence, these two measures are. Not really. I love playing 9-against-4, I truly do. One day I will be so caught up in the music (and so well-practiced at those measures) that everything will just fall nicely into place and I'll never again have trouble with measures 62 and 66. But in order to do that, I have to quit thinking of them as "the bane of my existence." (OK, so I don't really see them in that light. But I do get a little ... on edge ... whenever I approach them, thinking, "Will I do it? Will I finally get it right this time?" And of course that spoils the entire mood.)

mm 71-78: sloppy, and it shouldn't be. I always play this section really well, even if all of the other sections don't sound so good. I can't let this one get sloppy.

The measures after 78 are also rather sloppy, but they're definitely salvageable. It will be just a matter of drilling them a few times. I had them down cold before, and I still do. My hands just need to get themselves back into the rhythm.

So, for my next Liszt practice, I'll work on some of those areas that need the most work.

I will admit, the Hubster came up while I was playing and had this look of wonder and delight on his face and said "That's really beautiful," or some such nonsense. He's not much of a Liszt lisztener (I'm punny tonight), but considering he's heard me practicing this piece ad nauseam (his nauseam, not mine) (apologies to any classical scholars that may be reading this) for the past eight months, I was happy to see him so pleased.

I'm being silly. Music does that to me. It's so good to be practicing again. Very good.


Maurizio said…
T'aint a contest, Waterfall! I don't claim excellence of execution. Just improvement. Probably only Magic Martha Argerich could make such a claim. Keep in mind that I don't do my arpeggios in contrary motion -- Rachel and I decided it was a waste for either of us. Neither of use do dominant/diminished 7th arpeggios either. What might help you is Peskanov's approach to practicing them -- they don't call him Pesky for nothing. Email me if you're curious.

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